LS(1) BSD General Commands Manual LS(1)NAMEls — list directory contents
SYNOPSISls [-ABCFGHILPRSTUWZabcdfghiklmnopqrstuwx1] [-D format] [file ...]
For each operand that names a file of a type other than directory, ls
displays its name as well as any requested, associated information. For
each operand that names a file of type directory, ls displays the names
of files contained within that directory, as well as any requested, asso‐
If no operands are given, the contents of the current directory are dis‐
played. If more than one operand is given, non-directory operands are
displayed first; directory and non-directory operands are sorted sepa‐
rately and in lexicographical order.
The following options are available:
-A Include directory entries whose names begin with a dot (‘.’)
except for . and ... Automatically set for the super-user unless
-I is specified.
-B Force printing of non-printable characters (as defined by
ctype(3) and current locale settings) in file names as \xxx,
where xxx is the numeric value of the character in octal.
-C Force multi-column output; this is the default when output is to
When printing in the long (-l) format, use format to format the
date and time output. The argument format is a string used by
strftime(3). Depending on the choice of format string, this may
result in a different number of columns in the output. This
option overrides the -T option.
-F Display a slash (‘/’) immediately after each pathname that is a
directory, an asterisk (‘*’) after each that is executable, an at
sign (‘@’) after each symbolic link, an equals sign (‘=’) after
each socket, a percent sign (‘%’) after each whiteout, and a ver‐
tical bar (‘|’) after each that is a FIFO.
-G Enable colorized output. This option is equivalent to defining
CLICOLOR in the environment. (See below.)
-H Symbolic links on the command line are followed. This option is
assumed if none of the -F, -d, or -l options are specified.
-I Prevent -A from being automatically set for the super-user.
-L If argument is a symbolic link, list the file or directory the
link references rather than the link itself. This option cancels
the -P option.
-P If argument is a symbolic link, list the link itself rather than
the object the link references. This option cancels the -H and
-R Recursively list subdirectories encountered.
-S Sort by size (largest file first) before sorting the operands in
-T When printing in the long (-l) format, display complete time
information for the file, including month, day, hour, minute,
second, and year. The -D option gives even more control over the
-U Use time when file was created for sorting or printing.
-W Display whiteouts when scanning directories.
-Z Display each file's MAC label; see maclabel(7).
-a Include directory entries whose names begin with a dot (‘.’).
-b As -B, but use C escape codes whenever possible.
-c Use time when file status was last changed for sorting or print‐
-d Directories are listed as plain files (not searched recursively).
-f Output is not sorted.
-g This option is deprecated and is only available for compatibility
with 4.3BSD; it was used to display the group name in the long
(-l) format output.
-h When used with the -l option, use unit suffixes: Byte, Kilobyte,
Megabyte, Gigabyte, Terabyte and Petabyte in order to reduce the
number of digits to four or fewer using base 2 for sizes.
-i For each file, print the file's file serial number (inode num‐
-k This has the same effect as setting environment variable
BLOCKSIZE to 1024, except that it also nullifies any -h options
to its left.
-l (The lowercase letter “ell”.) List files in the long format, as
described in the The Long Format subsection below.
-m Stream output format; list files across the page, separated by
-n Display user and group IDs numerically rather than converting to
a user or group name in a long (-l) output.
-o Include the file flags in a long (-l) output.
-p Write a slash (‘/’) after each filename if that file is a direc‐
-q Force printing of non-graphic characters in file names as the
character ‘?’; this is the default when output is to a terminal.
-r Reverse the order of the sort.
-s Display the number of blocks used in the file system by each
file. Block sizes and directory totals are handled as described
in The Long Format subsection below, except (if the long format
is not also requested) the directory totals are not output when
the output is in a single column, even if multi-column output is
-t Sort by time modified (most recently modified first) before sort‐
ing the operands in lexicographical order.
-u Use time of last access, instead of last modification of the file
for sorting (-t) or printing (-l).
-w Force raw printing of non-printable characters. This is the
default when output is not to a terminal.
-x The same as -C, except that the multi-column output is produced
with entries sorted across, rather than down, the columns.
-1 (The numeric digit “one”.) Force output to be one entry per
line. This is the default when output is not to a terminal.
The -1, -C, -x, and -l options all override each other; the last one
specified determines the format used.
The -c, -u, and -U options all override each other; the last one speci‐
fied determines the file time used.
The -S and -t options override each other; the last one specified deter‐
mines the sort order used.
The -B, -b, -w, and -q options all override each other; the last one
specified determines the format used for non-printable characters.
The -H, -L and -P options all override each other (either partially or
fully); they are applied in the order specified.
By default, ls lists one entry per line to standard output; the excep‐
tions are to terminals or when the -C or -x options are specified.
File information is displayed with one or more ⟨blank⟩s separating the
information associated with the -i, -s, and -l options.
The Long Format
If the -l option is given, the following information is displayed for
each file: file mode, number of links, owner name, group name, MAC label,
number of bytes in the file, abbreviated month, day-of-month file was
last modified, hour file last modified, minute file last modified, and
If the modification time of the file is more than 6 months in the past or
future, and the -D or -T are not specified, then the year of the last
modification is displayed in place of the hour and minute fields.
If the owner or group names are not a known user or group name, or the -n
option is given, the numeric ID's are displayed.
If the file is a character special or block special file, the major and
minor device numbers for the file are displayed in the size field. If
the file is a symbolic link the pathname of the linked-to file is pre‐
ceded by “->”.
The listing of a directory's contents is preceded by a labeled total num‐
ber of blocks used in the file system by the files which are listed as
the directory's contents (which may or may not include . and .. and other
files which start with a dot, depending on other options).
The default block size is 512 bytes. The block size may be set with
option -k or environment variable BLOCKSIZE. Numbers of blocks in the
output will have been rounded up so the numbers of bytes is at least as
many as used by the corresponding file system blocks (which might have a
The file mode printed under the -l option consists of the entry type and
the permissions. The entry type character describes the type of file, as
- Regular file.
b Block special file.
c Character special file.
l Symbolic link.
The next three fields are three characters each: owner permissions, group
permissions, and other permissions. Each field has three character posi‐
1. If r, the file is readable; if -, it is not readable.
2. If w, the file is writable; if -, it is not writable.
3. The first of the following that applies:
S If in the owner permissions, the file is not exe‐
cutable and set-user-ID mode is set. If in the
group permissions, the file is not executable and
set-group-ID mode is set.
s If in the owner permissions, the file is exe‐
cutable and set-user-ID mode is set. If in the
group permissions, the file is executable and set‐
group-ID mode is set.
x The file is executable or the directory is search‐
- The file is neither readable, writable, exe‐
cutable, nor set-user-ID nor set-group-ID mode,
nor sticky. (See below.)
These next two apply only to the third character in the last
group (other permissions).
T The sticky bit is set (mode 1000), but not execute
or search permission. (See chmod(1) or
t The sticky bit is set (mode 1000), and is search‐
able or executable. (See chmod(1) or sticky(8).)
The next field contains a plus (‘+’) character if the file has an ACL, or
a space (‘ ’) if it does not. The ls utility does not show the actual
ACL; use getfacl(1) to do this.
The following environment variables affect the execution of ls:
BLOCKSIZE If this is set, its value, rounded up to 512 or down to a
multiple of 512, will be used as the block size in bytes
by the -l and -s options. See The Long Format subsection
for more information.
CLICOLOR Use ANSI color sequences to distinguish file types. See
LSCOLORS below. In addition to the file types mentioned
in the -F option some extra attributes (setuid bit set,
etc.) are also displayed. The colorization is dependent
on a terminal type with the proper termcap(5) capabili‐
ties. The default “cons25” console has the proper capa‐
bilities, but to display the colors in an xterm(1), for
example, the TERM variable must be set to “xterm-color”.
Other terminal types may require similar adjustments.
Colorization is silently disabled if the output is not
directed to a terminal unless the CLICOLOR_FORCE variable
CLICOLOR_FORCE Color sequences are normally disabled if the output is
not directed to a terminal. This can be overridden by
setting this flag. The TERM variable still needs to ref‐
erence a color capable terminal however otherwise it is
not possible to determine which color sequences to use.
COLUMNS If this variable contains a string representing a decimal
integer, it is used as the column position width for dis‐
playing multiple-text-column output. The ls utility cal‐
culates how many pathname text columns to display based
on the width provided. (See -C and -x.)
LANG The locale to use when determining the order of day and
month in the long -l format output. See environ(7) for
LSCOLORS The value of this variable describes what color to use
for which attribute when colors are enabled with
CLICOLOR. This string is a concatenation of pairs of the
format fb, where f is the foreground color and b is the
The color designators are as follows:
h light grey
A bold black, usually shows up as dark grey
B bold red
C bold green
D bold brown, usually shows up as yellow
E bold blue
F bold magenta
G bold cyan
H bold light grey; looks like bright white
x default foreground or background
Note that the above are standard ANSI colors. The actual
display may differ depending on the color capabilities of
the terminal in use.
The order of the attributes are as follows:
2. symbolic link
6. block special
7. character special
8. executable with setuid bit set
9. executable with setgid bit set
10. directory writable to others, with sticky bit
11. directory writable to others, without sticky
The default is "exfxcxdxbxegedabagacad", i.e., blue fore‐
ground and default background for regular directories,
black foreground and red background for setuid executa‐
LS_COLWIDTHS If this variable is set, it is considered to be a colon-
delimited list of minimum column widths. Unreasonable
and insufficient widths are ignored (thus zero signifies
a dynamically sized column). Not all columns have
changeable widths. The fields are, in order: inode,
block count, number of links, user name, group name,
flags, file size, file name.
TERM The CLICOLOR functionality depends on a terminal type
with color capabilities.
TZ The timezone to use when displaying dates. See
environ(7) for more information.
The ls utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.
The group field is now automatically included in the long listing for
files in order to be compatible with the IEEE Std 1003.2 (“POSIX.2”)
SEE ALSOchflags(1), chmod(1), getfacl(1), sort(1), xterm(1), strftime(3),
strmode(3), termcap(5), maclabel(7), symlink(7), getfmac(8), sticky(8)STANDARDS
With the exception of options -I, -g, -n and -o, the ls utility conforms
to IEEE Std 1003.1-2001 (“POSIX.1”).
The ACL support is compatible with IEEE Std 1003.2c (“POSIX.2c”) Draft 17
An ls command appeared in Version 1 AT&T UNIX.
To maintain backward compatibility, the relationships between the many
options are quite complex.
The exception mentioned in the -s option description might be a feature
that was based on the fact that single-column output usually goes to
something other than a terminal. It is debatable whether this is a
BSD April 4, 2008 BSD